The Ministry of Health recently signed a landmark agreement with the Radiation Oncology Centre of Jamaica which will see several cancer patients who are awaiting treatment at the Kingston Public Hospital, the Bustamante Hospital for Children and the Cornwall Regional Hospital benefitting from faster radiation treatment services.
Minister of Health, Dr. Fenton Ferguson said this was a demonstration of an important public/private partnership which will positively and directly impact persons who have been waiting for radiation therapy at the KPH, CRH and BHC.
“This agreement will see us being able to assist several patients who have been waiting for treatment at the KPH and CRH because of the volume of persons who need the service. It will reduce the waiting list for radiation treatment as services will be provided at a significantly reduced cost at ROCJ. The Government will stand the cost of this service and so patients will not be required to pay out of pocket,” Dr. Ferguson said.
The agreement with ROCJ will also benefit the approximately 5-8 children who require this type of treatment each year and who are managed through the Bustamante Hospital for Children.
The Health Minister added that a full course of radiation treatment generally costs upwards of $1.8 Million but the agreement will see the Government paying a third of this cost. The funds will be provided through the Compassionate Fund from resources provided by the National Health Fund. The Compassionate Fund was set up to provide support for persons who need medical treatment but could not afford it.
“What this agreement will do is allow patients who are among the most vulnerable in the society to access treatment that they would otherwise not be able to afford. We expect to be able to offer the service to up to 120 patients through ROCJ while we await the procurement and installation of the Government’s Linear Accelerator (LINAC) machines – the same types being used by ROCJ – so that we can begin to facilitate treatment for several more patients,” Dr. Ferguson said.
The LINAC machines are presently being procured and are expected to be in place within the next 14 months.